UNESCO Chief Condemns the Killing of Journalists

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz

The head of the United Nations agency mandated to defend press freedom denounced the assassination of Moisés Sánchez Cerezo, a Mexican journalist recently found murdered weeks after his disappearance, and Kenji Goto, a Japanese freelancer killed by Islamist extremists in Syria.

“His killing is an unacceptable attack on journalism, a profession that embodies the right of freedom of expression, which is indispensable to democracy,” lamented Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a statement issued Monday.

“I call on the Mexican authorities to shed light on this crime and bring its perpetrators to justice.”

Moisés Sánchez Cerezo’s body was discovered on 24 January, three weeks after he was abducted from his home by armed men who also confiscated his computer, camera and mobile phone.

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As owner and editor of the weekly magazine, La Unión, Mr. Sánchez Cerezo regularly denounced problems of insecurity in the Mexican city of Medellin de Bravo, in the state of Veracruz.

His death comes amid a deteriorating security situation across Mexico in which numerous journalists and activists have lost their lives.

Ms. Bokova also condemned the murder of Japanese freelance journalist, Kenji Goto, at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).

Mr. Goto was a seasoned war journalist who had previously worked in Afghanistan and Syria and remained “dedicated to exposing the suffering that conflict imposes on citizens,” the Director-General said.

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He had travelled to Syria in late October and went missing shortly thereafter. On January 31, ISIL released a video of his beheading.

“His cold-blooded murder was a vile act that I condemn in the strongest possible terms,” Ms. Bokova continued.

“I urge the authorities to do everything within their power to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. I also call on journalists and all media workers covering events in Iraq and Syria, and in other conflict zones, to take all necessary measures for enhancing their safety.”

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Rakesh Raman